The first introduction to the Mugello circuit in a Formula 1 car went well for Max Verstappen. The Dutchman drove with the Red Bull in the first free practice for the Grand Prix of Tuscany the second fastest time. With 1.17,927 Verstappen was less than five hundredth of a second slower than Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas.
Formula 1 will be racing for the first time this weekend in Mugello, the Ferrari test track some 35 kilometres from Florence. A few weeks ago Verstappen already visited the beautifully situated circuit for some laps in a GT-car (sports car). He found the visit useful and on Friday he probably took advantage of it.
The Dutchman was the fastest in the first part of the training (1.19,017). After all the problems last week at the Monza circuit, where he dropped out, a boost. Even on the softest tyre the Red Bull driver had the momentum during the last part of the training.
Bottas finally drove his Mercedes as the fastest lap in 1.17,879. Verstappen admitted 0.048 seconds. World champion and World Champion Lewis Hamilton had to make do with the fourth fastest time: 1.18,409.
The GP of Tuscany is actually a tribute to the 1000th F1 race of the Italian racing stable Ferrari. However, the Italian team is going through a dramatic season with Charles Leclerc and the departing Sebastian Vettel. Just around the time of the jubilee, the Ferrari does not manage to compete with Mercedes and Red Bull.
Friday things went a bit better, although the times of the first practice session say little. Leclerc signed for the third time (1.18,186). However, Vettel gave in 1.3 seconds on Bottas. His time (1.19,267) brought him no further than thirteenth place.
Pierre Gasly, the surprising winner of Italys GP last week, showed his good form by sending the AlphaTauri to fifth place.
The Grand Prix of Tuscany is the first Formula 1 race this season where, although limited, spectators are allowed. Every day there are about three thousand of them. This afternoon at 3 pm the second practice session will start.